CONTROVERSIAL plans to transform a high street off-licence into a chicken takeaway look set to be refused at Bolton Council’s planning meeting today.

Planning officers argue that there are too many takeaways within a 50-metre radius of the proposed new one, near the Barclays Bank in Market Street, Westhoughton.

They concede the proposal would safeguard the economic interests of the outlet but said this does not outweigh the potential harm caused by saturating Market Street with takeaways.

The off-licence has been on the market since November 2009, and no other firm offer has been made since then.

The council report says: “It is considered that to allow a further hot food takeaway in the area would result in harm being caused to the character and appearance of Westhoughton town centre and result in a reduction in the vitality and viability of the centre.”

Letters of objection from residents point out the high number of estate agents and takeaways in Market Street, as well as the potential impact of food smells on the delicatessen next door.

They also voiced fears that discarded rubbish may attract rats.

A support letter argues the property has been vacant for several years and nowhere else in the street sells grilled chicken.

Westhoughton Town Council opposed the plans, arguing that efforts need to be concentrated on rejuvenating Westhoughton’s day-time economy instead.

Leader Cllr David Chadwick said: “We have quite enough hot food takeaways in Westhoughton.

“How far do you want to go? Market Street needs some variety. This is a no-go in planning terms to my mind.”

The takeaway, which would open until 11pm on week nights and midnight on Saturdays, says it would employ four full-time and two part-time staff.

Conservative town councillor Cllr Phil Ashcroft said: “Too many takeaways could stifle the day-time economy of Market Street, which must thrive for the town to be successful.”